Catching the Midnight Train

What I am about to document is one of the most tedious and elbow chewingly painful journeys of my life. And to start things off, I must state for the record, that this journey NORMALLY takes an hour and a quarter to get from London back to Leicester.

Here’s how it all started. On the 17th November, thanks to a last minute flurry of emails, I managed to get myself on the guest list for a show being held in London called BUG hosted by Adam Buxton (not about insects). Even though this was my birthday treat, I could not convince anyone I knew to part with fifty of their hard earned pounds to accompany me to London, so this was strictly a solo mission.

Having left the show late on Thursday night with a smile on my face, I hurried back to St Pancras to catch the last train back to Leicester for the privilege of dragging myself into work in a zombie-like trance on my birthday. Saying that, the first fifteen minutes of my birthday were most appeasing as the birthday messages flooded in on Facebook and Twitter. Made me feel like a cyberspace celebrity, much like “Chocolate Rain’s” Tay Zonday (Google it). Sixteen minutes later my train departed slowly from the station, how was I to know that the following three hours would be the slowest three hours of my life?

I sat in a deserted carriage with litter strewn everywhere, it was like a spooky scene from a horror film. There were only another 3 people in my carriage and I sat eyeing them up, trying to figure out which one was the murderer. But it was past midnight in London, so could have been any of them. I sat at a four-seater table, because I could, and across the aisle sat a skinhead in a suit with a can of Budweiser. Not only was it an image sending me very mixed messages; I also had my new lead suspect.

He sat there skimming through the pages of his newspaper at such an extreme pace, I could only assume he was reading The Sun and looking for boobs. Turned out he was reading the Daily Mail, so was clearly looking for different kind of tits. David Cameron and Nick Clegg being a fine pair.

Two stops down the line, the carriage emptied leaving me all alone until I reached Leicester. The digital display infrequently reminded me what time it was in a taunting manner telling me “you should be in bed by now”. For reasons unknown, the train was trundling along at a painfully slow pace by this point. As if the driver was scared to wake the wildlife as we passed by. The sands of time slowly dropped away grain by grain. Tick follows tock follows tick follows tock follows, just like the Guinness advert, but nowhere near as exciting. Only two hours to go.

With so long left to go and nobody else around, I started to indulge myself in lunacy to occupy my time. All that follows actually happened. I started by standing and singing myself a happy birthday and taking a bow at the end. Sitting back down wasn’t comfortable enough, so I decided to lie across the aisle to get a different perspective on the journey. Not only was this far worse for relaxing, it hardly helped to alleviate the immense boredom I was suffering, so I needed something else to occupy my time. Power-walking lengths of the carriage seemed a good idea and whittled away five minutes or so before fatigue set in.

An announcement rang out from the speakers warning customers to keep their luggage with them at all times. Not being one to follow orders, I immediately deposited my bags several rows in front of me at risk of a terrorist conviction. Seeking other rules to flaunt, I spotted the area for disabled people and the sign telling people to keep the area clear. Obviously I needed to stand there for a few minutes with a complete disregard to disabled passengers, so I did. I was a rebel very much without a cause. Then I spotted the little red hammer to break glass in case of emergencies, I didn’t use it, but it had never looked more appealing to me.

Finally the patronising announcement declaring our glorious arrival to Leicester sprang forth from the speakers. I stepped off the train I first boarded three hours ago and turned left heading for the exit as I always do but something was wrong. The exit had disappeared. Then it hit me, the train had circled the whole of Leicester to arrive from the North, adding countless minutes to my already exhausting journey. It truly was the mouldy cherry on my stale birthday cake. Not the best way to start celebrating me not dying yet another year.

I’m well aware that there are security cameras on these trains, and in case Mr Train Company Man is reading, I would very much like a copy of the tape.

I’ve lasted a quarter of a century now, but any more journeys like that and I can see myself ending it all. Maybe a reasonable rail fare would have made it more bearable, but paying £50 for this pleasure grew on me like a tumour throughout the journey. In that three hours it took me to get from London to Leicester, I could have been halfway across the Atlantic in a plane. But no time to think about that as I jumped into the first taxi I saw, I needed to get to the refuge of my bed. It was 3.30AM and I had to be up for work in four hours.

One response to “Catching the Midnight Train

  1. hmmm well you entertained me now with your boring trip so does that make your trip redundant? At least your last moments before bed were lovely spent with loved ones. And I bet your actual birthday after you escaped the zombie-ness of the day turned out very well *wink* <3

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